The Fool's own senior auto analyst, John Rosevear, sits down with Richard Engdahl for an in-depth look at Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) and the electric vehicle market, as well as Chrysler's unique situation with Fiat (NASDAQOTH: FIATY ) .
Tesla wants to succeed as a business, certainly, but its success in the high-end market will help legitimize electric and hybrid models at all levels and bring them into the mainstream -- a win for green vehicles in every category, and at every price point.
A full transcript follows the video.
Richard Engdahl: On the other hand, I feel like success for Tesla means, ultimately, success for the Nissan (NASDAQOTH: NSANY ) Leafs of the world.
John Rosevear: Sure. Elon Musk says what he wants to do is make electric cars a mainstream choice and then -- this is not his words, but the gist of what he said -- is "a" mainstream choice, and then "the" mainstream choice.
Right now, you look at the global auto business, there are a lot of different ways you could go from here, in terms of what comes after big V8 engines, big V8 internal combustion engines.
Toyota (NYSE: TM ) is investing heavily in hybrids, ever-better hybrids. They think they can carry that technology a long way. Hybrids have the advantage that, to a customer who's been driving regular gas-powered cars, the actual day-to-day living with this thing is no different.
You watch the gas gauge, you run low on gas, you go to the gas station. You don't have to deal with charging or exotic fuels like hydrogen or anything else like that. You just go put gas in it. You hear the motor running, you know what it does. It's a car.
It feels like the cars you've always known. It just goes a lot longer on less gas. There's some merit to that, and there's some merit to the combination of plug-in hybrids, and so forth, in terms of mainstream consumer adoption.
At the same time, Tesla has proven that you can build a good car that is an electric car. You can build a car that has its own value proposition.
I think electric cars before Tesla were kind of the Birkenstocks of the car world. They were quirky, they were not attractive, they were what the crazy hippies drove, etcetera, etcetera. They weren't real choices for somebody who works in a law firm downtown, or somebody who runs money or is a doctor or something like that; mainstream consumers of luxury cars.
Tesla is starting to change that. Now, we can't get too far ahead of ourselves because Tesla hasn't sold a lot of cars yet. If they have a good year this year, they will sell 21,000 cars -- 21,000 Model S's -- and this is their first really full year at full production.
For context, Ford (NYSE: F ) sold 60,000 pickups last month. In terms of the global auto business, this is a drop in the bucket.